Archives for October 2009

Making Herself Ready

After four bridal gown shopping trips, the dress is ordered! As you may remember, our daughter Kelli got engaged in August, and since then she and I have been buzzing with all things bridal.

The dress, in fact, was the first thing we buzzed off to find, searching high and low, near and far. The shot above is from a Tulsa trip in August, and Tulsa was where we found ourselves again this past weekend. Kelli tried on her dream gown one more time just to be sure, and with oohs and ahhs echoing from all standing nearby, she made her final decision. Moments later, I handed over my credit card, making my little girl’s dream come true. Being mother of the bride definitely has its perks :)

I hope I don’t sound like I’m bragging, but Kelli is going to be a beautiful bride. I can’t wait to see Jake’s face when he sees her coming down the aisle on their wedding day. For you see, she’s making herself ready for him. I’ve seen and heard it time and again the past couple of months — she has him in mind.

I’m thinking today of another bride as well. The bride of Christ — the church. If we are believers, that includes you and me. To what lengths are we willing to go to make ourselves ready for Him? Are we buzzing with all things eternal as we await the day He comes for us? Do we have Him in mind?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see His face…

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7

**The next issue of Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will be coming out next week. There’s a special giveaway coming for all subscribers, current and new. Don’t miss out — sign up for it on the sidebar!

Hanging on His Every Word

For the past few months, I’ve been slowly reading through the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible), trying to notice as much as I can about Jesus and the things He said. Most of it is familiar to me, but it’s amazing how much seems fresh and new as I read with a miner’s eyes — eyes looking for treasure.

I happened upon one nugget in Luke 19 after the passage about Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion. Luke tells us He spent the next few days teaching in the temple while, at the same time, some of his enemies — the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders among the people — were looking for an opportunity to kill Him. They couldn’t find a way to do it, however, because “all the people hung on his words.” (v. 48)

What an image that phrase creates… Do you see the crowds gathered round, pressing in, trying to get as close to Jesus as they could? Do you see them straining to hear, shushing those who might cause them to miss something He said? Do you see the few who came prepared with writing materials taking notes with urgency as Jesus spoke? Do you see them all hanging on His every word?

Whose words are we hanging on to? To whom do we pay close attention? For some, it might be a famous teacher or pastor, and for others it could be a celebrity therapist or talk show host. Some may even drink in every word uttered by their favorite sports star, musician, or movie star.

I’ve mentioned here on the blog about some of the times I’ve had opportunity to sit under the teaching of published authors such as Cec Murphey, Suzie Eller, Jan Dargatz, Deborah Vogts, and Therese Stenzel. Each time I listened with rapt attention, interest gleaming in my eyes, and pen ready to capture the insight and wisdom they chose to share that hour. Yes, I hung on their words. I knew they could nourish, encourage, challenge, or train me, and I didn’t want to miss any of it.

How much more should I hang on to the words of my Creator and Sustainer, my Savior and my Lord? I know He can nourish, encourage, challenge, and train me — and I don’t want to miss any of it. How about you? I say let’s turn to His Word with fresh fervor!

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16

Flickr photo by Iangatos

**The next issue of Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will be coming out next week. There’s a special giveaway coming for all subscribers, current and new. Don’t miss out — sign up for it on the sidebar!

Show Off Season

Someone’s showing off in our neighborhood — and from what I hear, He may be showing off in yours, too. The landscape around here is changing daily, with colors popping overnight. Yesterday’s trees have donned new clothes, and tomorrow’s will wear an even different shade. October’s work is underway.

Many talented artists, craftsmen, and designers populate our world, but can any match God’s artistry? Their representations of His original work are most times beautiful indeed, but can they even touch the magnificence God gives us by allowing us to be right out in the work itself?

God graces each season with its own unique beauties, but for a couple of weeks in October, He just plain shows off, doesn’t He? We’re hard pressed to keep up with the changes occurring daily around us, and if we’re not careful — if we’re too busy or stressed or even just caught up in our daily routines — we’ll miss the changing feast surrounding us. And it’s a feast not to be missed.

God’s show off season won’t last long so let’s do what we must to enjoy it. Let’s take a few extra seconds as we rush from door to door and let our eyes linger on the beauties of fall. Let’s drive out of our way from time to time to see what we can spy or take a leisurely walk and fully experience God’s masterpiece with all our senses at once. Let’s take it in — and then thank Him for showing off yet again.

“How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all…” Psalm 104:24a

*We’re lucky to have more than one beautiful tree in our neighborhood. Remember the one across the street from us? (The leaves haven’t changed colors on it yet.) The one pictured above is just a couple of houses away, and I look forward to it’s glorious colors every fall.

*My photo

From Ashes to Praise

Since this has been one crazy-busy week for me, I thought I’d post a powerful quote I came across this past week in Journey, a women’s devotional magazine from LifeWay. Elisabeth Elliot had this to say in her book These Strange Ashes:

“To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss, but loss and death are only the preludes to gain and life…to God nothing is finally lost. Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered in exchange immunity and exemption from the world’s woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether. God’s story never ends with ashes”.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1a, 2b-3a

What a precious, lifegiving promise. Praise Him with me, won’t you? And share if you will — how has God brought about beauty from ashes in your life?

*Flickr photo by eyspahn, Creative Commons License

Inspired and Encouraged by New Author Deborah Vogts

New author and fellow Kansan, Deborah Vogts, gave me a double dose of inspiration and encouragement as she spoke at our FCW meeting last night. I’d been looking forward to the evening for months.

Last spring, after it was announced at FCW that Deborah, author of Snow Melts in Spring, would be our October speaker, she did a guest post for her agent Rachelle Gardner, whose blog I follow. After I realized Deborah lives in the same region I do, we exchanged a couple of emails, and I told her I would be at the Tulsa meeting where she would be speaking in October. Not long after that we became “friends” on Facebook. As you can imagine, it was fun last night to put a real person to the little face we see in our status updates from time to time.

At the meeting, Deborah spoke about promoting and marketing our books. Even though I and many of the other FCW members don’t have books published yet, Deborah showed us how important it is to start marketing ourselves before we ever have that first publishing contract.

She went on to share lots of good info about what to do at other stages of the publishing journey, but the thing I found so encouraging? I’m already doing several of the things Deborah said we could be doing before we’re published to help snag that first contract. She mentioned three things:

1) Build a web presence (I don’t have my own website yet, but I do have this blog — and even some readers!)

2) Join online social networks (find me on Facebook as well as the professional network LinkedIn.)

3) Create a newsletter to start building a database of readers (in November, I start year two of sending out Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter. You may sign up for it on the sidebar to the right.)

Especially encouraging to me were the facts that Deborah didn’t have to have some magic number of blog readers to catch the interest of an agent or publisher. She also had only about 30 more newsletter subscribers than I currently do when Zondervan offered her a contract.

Talk about a shot in the arm! News like that inspires this little writer gal to keep on plugging away, doing the things I know I can do to be ready for publication — if and when that time comes.

This past week a couple of things jumped out at me from scripture as well about right timing. In John 7:6, Jesus said, “‘The right time for me has not yet come…'”, and verse 30 also points out “…his time had not yet come.” What an encouragement to just keep trusting God to bring about what He knows is best at the time He knows is best.

I appreciate my heavenly Father for the encouragement He gives through His Word, and I appreciate Deborah, a brand new author, for the inspiration and encouragement she gave me last night. Isn’t it great how God uses us to encourage one another? Let’s be that shot in the arm for others!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11a